By Sheldon Killpack
Utah State Senator, District 21
Today was the first meeting of the Medicaid Interim Committee
Our task is not easy and likely not pleasant. Several interest groups, including governmental agencies, private providers and advocates, are watching to see what unfolds.
The committee will focus on
1. Cost Management
2. Accountability of Medicaid Recipients.
Over the past few weeks we witnessed Utah’s passion behind providing for a vulnerable population as we stood by decisions made during the general session.
Perhaps unfortunately, the Legislature does not have the luxury of putting on blinders and extolling the virtues of one single program without weighing it against a plethora of other state needs and the risk of losing the very basics of Medicaid. Utah is not the only state taking a careful look at the Medicaid program (as illustrated in the Washington Post article
Here is a sampling of the realities we face:
- Through the Deficit Reduction Act, the Federal Government will continue to push funding responsibilities back to the States.
- Utah is seeing a growing trend of providers who no longer accept Medicaid patients because our reimbursement rates are too low.
- The most expensive populations in Medicaid are the Elderly and Disabled. These populations make up 25 percent of the people in the Medicaid Program but they account for 70 (seventy) percent of the program’s expenditures. Over the next few years we will see a surge in our elderly population.
I’m troubled by the attempt to downplay Medicaid’s challenges by saying a sizable portion of the Medicaid population is in the program for a very short time. The population to which they refer only accounts for (roughly) 30 percent of Medicaid expenses. Simply put, the most expensive population which utilizes Medicaid (Elderly and Disabled) will be in the program for a long, long time.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I look forward to the coming months. I fully expect a spirit of cooperation as we take a realistic look at the future. I look forward to working with my co-chair, Representative Newbold, and the other members of the committee.
All stake holders will need to take an honest and open minded approach to work out funding and options for Utahns who have experienced very few of those things.